World / Ukraine crisis

No Cold War thinking

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-10 08:17

There are many ways to create a dismembered Ukraine, an annexed Crimea, and a new Cold War, or Cold-War style standoff. And the current political wrestling over Ukraine, is making these outcomes increasingly likely.

There is only one way to prevent these potentially devastating scenarios from materializing. Compromise may not be a favored option for any party, especially when Kiev fancies European Union and United States support, and the EU and the US are betting on Russia's fear of sanctions, and Russia has the upper hand in Crimea, but all the parties must take a step back if they are to emerge from the current crisis a winner.

Certainly, there will be no winners only losers if today's confrontation is allowed to persist and escalate.

Ukraine may see its territorial integrity compromised or face a deeper political divide at home. Russia may find the Crimea in its embrace, but risk isolation and sanctions. Even if the Ukraine draws closer to the EU, a Cold-War style showdown with Russia will only incur unaffordable economic and security costs. While a new round of confrontation, not to mention another full-blown Cold War with Russia will inevitably erode the US' global leadership.

The present rhetoric is dangerous in that it is bogging all those concerned into the quagmire of such an all-lose scenario.

However, the biggest danger is neither Crimea's undecided status, nor the messy situation in Ukraine, it is the persistence of the Cold War thinking that has been fanning the flames of the crisis.

The crisis was at first a matter of domestic political strife within Ukraine. Russian involvement was natural given the substantial Russian interests at stake, and Moscow has moved prudently and within international law. But the West's eagerness to portray the crisis as a clash between freedom and oppression, imperialism and self-determination, even between East and West, is an ominous reminder of the Cold War.

Such Cold-War thinking does no good except to create a antagonistic edge to the crisis.

Ukraine's territorial integrity deserves respect; so do Russia's legitimate interests. But this will be impossible if things are approached in a Cold-War manner.

It is ultimately upon the Ukrainians themselves to position their country between Russia and Europe, and this will prove a test for both the people and government of Ukraine.

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